In Minnesota, people can change their legal name through marriage, divorce/legal separation, or by petitioning for a name change action in state district court. Regardless of whether you change your legal name through marriage, divorce/legal separation, or through a name change action, you are required to do specific things.

The process of filing a name change action requires, among other things, filing specific court forms and appearing before a judge. Presently, unless the person petitioning for a name change is impoverished and has qualified for a fee waiver, they are also required to pay, at a minimum, a state-wide filing fee of $285. Plus, the petitioner is required to pay additional other fees which vary by county (e.g., usually a law library fee of $10-15). If you ask the court to change your legal name as part of a marriage, divorce, or legal separation, on the other hand, there are no fees for the name change on top of the usual filing fees in those matters (i.e., you get a “free” name change).

However, if a bill now under consideration in the Minnesota legislature passes into law, certain post-divorce name change actions will be “free” and far less cumbersome, similar to legal name changes that are granted in marriage, divorce, or legal separation proceedings. House File 1404 (92nd legislature), if made law, would allow a person who has lived in Minnesota at least 6 months and has obtained a divorce in Minnesota (must be their most recent divorce, if there are multiple) to petition for a name change with NO court filing fees, NO requirement to produce witnesses, and NO nationwide criminal background check. 

Oftentimes a person going through divorce is not sure whether they want a name change. They have a sense of urgency due to the extra cost and legal requirements/procedures involved if they change their mind later. The above changes to the name-change laws will take the pressure off by making post-divorce name changes much easier and less costly!